Five-lined Skink (Eumeces fasciatus)

Life History & Michigan History

Lizards in Michigan! Believe it or not, Michigan has two resident species of lizards. They represent an interesting part of our native Michigan fauna. The five-lined skink is the most abundant, while the six-lined race runner is known only from a small area in the Thumb area of Michigan.

5_lined_skink.JPG (21100 bytes)The most common of the two species is the five-lined skink. This species of skink is known from most Lower Peninsula counties and has also been reported in the mid-section of the Upper Peninsula. They can be locally abundant in good habitat, but many Michigan residents go years without encountering one. They are named for the five cream or yellow-toned stripes running from their nose down through the tail. Another interesting characteristic is the bluish color in the tails of juveniles. Female adults often retain some of this blue throughout their life. Tails on mature males will turn a gray color.

Skinks are most likely to be encountered in wooded or partially wooded habitat. One important component is basking areas where the lizards can sit to increase their body temperatures. Favorite basking areas include stumps, logs, rocks, or outcroppings. Moist habitat areas are preferred.

Because they are cold-blooded, skinks are most active from May to about October. During this period, they will hunt many types of invertebrates including crickets, grasshoppers, spiders, centipedes, and beetle larvae.

Perhaps the most interesting thing about the skink is its predator escape system. When a predator grabs a skink by the tail, it will break off. The tail continues to wiggle after being disconnected and distracts the predator until the skink can escape. The skink later regrows a new tail.

Skinks pose no negative impacts for humans and are beneficial in eating insect pests. Working to manage woodlands and provide the forest edges and sunning spots needed by skinks is the best way to ensure their survival.

Non-DNR Links

Five-lined Skink:

Six-lined Racerunner:

Related Documents
Fivelined Skink Occurrences Map PDF icon